Stewarding Grace

We are constantly trying to make sense of the world around us. Our lives are a journey of discovery. “Who am I?” is a question we’re consistently asking and this leaves us searching for our identity wherever it might be found.

When we stop and think about it we find that circumstances are perfect for us to adopt our gifts as our identity and to forget that we did nothing to merit them. But the gifts we’ve received are what God has called us to use to serve Him and to serve one another, not tell us who we are. 1 Peter 4 tells us they are a reflection of God’s multi- faceted grace. When we steward our gifts we are stewarding grace.

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As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
— 1 Peter 4:10 & 11

Because it’s so hard to determine sometimes where our gifts end and we begin it’s intensely personal to offer our gifts back to the One who entrusted them to us, as if to say, “These gifts are not my identity. My identity is found in You alone. You are the One who gives me value and worth. Therefore the grace I’ve receive is the grace I’ll extend with everything I have, with every gift You’ve given.”

Here are some signs that you’ve surrendered your gifts to the Gift-giver:

1. You’re happy for the success of others in your area of giftedness.

In other words, the success of others doesn’t intimidate you. It’s understandable to feel a tinge of frustration when you see people move ahead and you seem to be standing still, but reminding yourself Who you’re doing this for should realign your heart to the One who graciously gave you the gift in the first place.

2. You don’t dwell on past mistakes.

God has already seen where you’d fall short and He called you anyway. You have to give Him your failures and trust Him with them. He is the redeemer of every lost opportunity and every missed chance if we will let Him be.

3. You can surrender your idea of what using your gift means.

Our culture paints a very specific picture of what using our talents is supposed to look like and it has snuck it’s way into the church. Do you trust God enough to let Him lead you down whatever path He chooses, whether it looks like what you envisioned or not? We sometimes put a ceiling on how far God can take us because we think it needs to look a certain way.

4. You steward your gift faithfully no matter what.

Whether you’re having an opportunity to use your gift publicly or not, if God gave it to you He is telling you to steward it. You steward that gift for Him because He is ultimately the One you serve.

5. Jesus is enough.

If everything changed tomorrow and by the world’s standards you had amazing success, if God asked you to, would you leave it all behind because Jesus is enough? If you were called to disciple the people on the stage rather than be on the stage yourself would you do it because Jesus is enough? If God asked you to use your gift in a place where no one would ever know your name would you do it because Jesus is enough?

If you have a gift, use your gift. Walk it out in the fullest expression possible. God will make up where you lack because He’s to One who is glorified, even in our weakness. ALL the glory belongs to Him. He invites us to be partakers in that glory but not for one second are we intended to try to take it for ourselves. When we find ourselves deceived into thinking this might all be about us, the Holy Spirit mercifully reveals that no amount of achievement or notoriety will bring the kind of satisfaction that offering our gifts back to God could ever bring.

The satisfaction we all long for is found in the Gift-giver, not the gift itself.

You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
— Psalm 145:16
 

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Other Good Reads

Ministry: It's Not What I Thought

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…
— Ephesians 4:11-13 ESV

Too many frustrated conversations to count. 

Conversations with people who felt called to ministry but were disillusioned when it wasn’t happening the way they had imagined.

 Photo Credit:  Ales Krivec

Photo Credit: Ales Krivec

They believed what I believed - that for people who were passionate about Jesus, ministry would be the acceptable way to achieve success, maybe even their own version of fame. 

I’m ashamed to admit that for the majority of my life I thought ministry was about the person who was standing on the platform with a microphone in their hand. 

It was about being known by your own little world and being admired. 

I want this to be clear; there is never a moment where I feel more like I’m doing exactly what I’m meant to do than when I’m communicating the Truth that the world needs to hear so badly. But in the last five years or so, by the grace of God, I’ve also come to wholeheartedly believe this: no one needs to know my name. 

If you’ve followed WeAreTheVigilant for any period of time, you’ve seen me hash out this internal struggle over and over. You probably didn’t notice it, but the battle that went on inside me is woven into everything I’ve ever written.

Ministry is not about being known.

I am ALREADY known.

You are ALREADY known.

We are known by the only One who matters.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.      
— 1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV

This begs the question: What is ministry?

  • Ministry is admitting your brokenness, your need for a Savior to a broken world that also needs a Savior.
  • Ministry is acknowledging God’s incredible mercy and receiving His grace.
  • Ministry is asking for forgiveness, not pretending like it didn't happen.
  • Ministry is yielding to the deep work of the Holy Spirit.
  • Ministry is the willingness to be uncomfortable.
  • It is the divine cooperation between you and a Holy God that happens for the good of everyone that comes into contact with someone who has experienced redemption.

God has given us gifts and He has called us for one reason: to bring glory to Himself so that people would turn to Him. The idea that we would have any part of that makes me want to get on my face and weep out of gratitude.

Have you ever wanted to say, “If I can’t do this the right way then I won’t do it at all”?

Me too.

And if God rolls His eyes, I’m the most worthy recipient of said eye roll.

We take a pre-emptive strike on the call because deep down we really think that somehow this is still all about us.

A divine commission either is or it isn’t. Within the context of Jesus’ command to make disciples is there ever a moment that you shouldn't endeavor to make that command a reality? Even if it’s not in the way that you imagined?

If there is a glimmer of a chance that your participation in the great commission would draw even one person closer to the heart of God is that not a risk worth taking? Whether the context is behind a pulpit, faithfully serving your community, leading a small group, adopting a child, or late night conversations on the phone with a struggling friend, it’s all ministry.

If He gave you a specific talent or ability He has every intention of using those gifts to draw people to Himself. Where we so often get tied up is the desire to be recognized for the gifts we have merely received.  

For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
— 1 Corinthians 4:7 ESV

Sometimes we find ourselves at a standstill because we know that in order to move forward we have to lose all semblance of control. I don’t care who you are, that’s scary. But ultimately, I think the biggest lesson we need to learn is how to get out of our own way because “when Christ calls a man he bids him come and die"*.

As disciples, the call is dying to self.

As ministers, we must lead the way in this death. Only on the other side does a truly abundant life exist and we cannot show others the way when we have not yet been there ourselves.

 

 

*Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

 

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Fragile

Since you have purified your souls by obedience to the truth, so that you have a genuine love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from a pure heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,

“All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flowers of the field;the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”

And this is the word that was proclaimed to you.
— 1 Peter 1:22-25
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It hits me like a wave. That feeling of weightiness that goes something like this: 

This is your life. Don’t waste it. 

Your life on this earth has a beginning and it has an end and if you’re reading this right now you’re right smack in the middle of it. 

There was a point this week where I felt like I was somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be. Not because I was breaking any rules or using stealthy ninja skills that we all know I don’t have. But because I, in and of myself, did not feel like I deserved it.

It was one of those moments that was bigger than me. Has that ever happened to you? Where you find yourself in the middle of a situation you know only the grace of God achieved. I just keep thinking, "Why, God? Why?" 

Why would He do this for me? Why would He choose me for this? And then, why would He choose me for what's to come? Because if this moment is blowing me away I can't even fathom what He's got up His sleeve for me next. 

There are always two things I feel in moments like those: fragility and gratitude. 

Fragility because life is a vapor and sometimes we get glimpses of how exposed we really are. 

Gratitude because I know that I am fragile but I am also deeply and intimately cared for by a sovereign Father God who holds me together by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).

The same eternal word that stands forever is the same word that holds together my fragile life. 

Why am I sharing this with you? Because I want to encourage you to do things that feel risky for a cause that is bigger than you. You know why you can? Because you are loved. You are completely loved by the Creator of the Universe. Everything that’s of worth is found in Him and guess where we, as Christ followers, reside? In Him. (Colossians 2:10

I don’t fully understand the nuances of this union. What I know is that it is so, and it is beautiful. And realizing that we belong to Him releases within us a freedom to feel the weight of our fragility and the immense gratitude that comes along with it. 

Our only other option is fear.

But ultimately, aren't most of our fears just our excuses? Let’s just admit that when we say we're afraid what we're really saying is we value whatever we’re afraid of losing over whatever God has called us to do. Be it status, title, or material possessions, if our identity is not secure in who we are loved by and found in, then our identity will be wrapped up in lesser, more fallible things. 

My prayer lately has been, “Let my life have a far greater impact for your glory than it ever could by living on my own terms”. 

God can exponentially increase the impact of our lives for His Kingdom. But we can’t do it ruled by fear. 

We are complete and secure in Him and we have to live from that place, because then and only then will we experience the freedom to LOVE with authenticity and SERVE with sincerity - not preoccupied by who sees us or what anyone thinks of us. 

That’s the kind of thing that draws people to Jesus. And that's why we're here. 

 

 

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